Before the early twentieth century, linguists had long maintained it was possible to separate the form and the meaning of a word, until it was challenged by the French-speaking linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913). He developed the idea of the ‘linguistic sign’, an ‘inseparable combination of a signified, a concept or meaning, and a signifier, the spoken or written form that conveys or represents the meaning’. Just as the front side of a sheet of paper cannot be separated from the back, so it is impossible to separate the two parts of the linguistic sign.1 Although not universally accepted, this idea represents an important challenge to the fixed assumptions of his time, which reverberates to this day.